Jeremy Jones has snowboarded in places that have never seen footsteps, but there’s nowhere else he’d rather be than ripping KT-22 at Squaw Valley.
by Megan Michelson
Pro snowboarder and filmmaker Jeremy Jones could sit back and enjoy the benefits of his labor. The Truckee local, 41, launched an influential nonprofit, Protect Our Winters, in 2007, and a thriving company, Jones Snowboards, in 2009. He’s churned out a blockbuster trilogy with Teton Gravity Research, with films “Deeper,” “Further,” and “Higher,” plus an Emmy-nominated snowboard TV series. Why not relax and enjoy down days shredding his home mountain, Squaw Valley? Because the planet is warming, Jones says, and winter is at stake.
Squaw Magazine: There are a lot of issues you could have taken on. Why climate change? Jeremy Jones: At a young age I fell in love with snowboarding and the mountains. I had an intimate connection with winter. Once I saw that the mountains were changing—temperatures were increasing, seasons were getting shorter, glaciers were melting—it bothered me to the point where I needed to do something about it. I felt like I was in a position where I could make a difference.
Did you feel like an imposter starting an environmental organization? When I first had the idea, I thought, “Who am I? I’m not an expert in the field.” But the idea wouldn’t go away. Now, we work with some of the best climate scientists, and POW communicates their data and observations in a way everyone can understand.
You’ve hit Washington, D.C., four times now to lobby lawmakers on climate policy. That must feel weird to be a snowboarder wearing a suit in the nation’s capital. I never intended to get into policy. If you’d told me in 2007 that I’d be going to Washington, I would have said there’s no way this foundation is getting political. But that’s where real change needs to happen. When we first started lobbying, uttering “climate change” was political suicide. Now, we have real conversations with policy makers about the issue. We’re still far from making a significant change as a country. That’s one of the biggest elements missing in climate change: We need to create a movement and get large groups of people to care about climate change. Time is of the essence.
You’re a pro snowboarder who travels the globe. is your carbon footprint bigger than most? I look at all aspects of my life. With my snowboarding, I’ve greatly reduced that carbon impact by doing 80 percent of my riding locally around Tahoe. I do travel to snowboard, but I make one or two month-long trips a year and really immerse myself. I have to travel a lot for Jones Snowboards, but the company works closely with One Percent for the Planet, which offsets our carbon footprint with significant financial contributions toward the environment. You can look at the negative side of a global company, or you can look at the money that company is giving to a good cause.
It’s not so bad to stay put when you call Tahoe home, right? Absolutely. I appreciate being able to hop on a chairlift at Squaw or Alpine. Some of my favorite days are going to the mountain with my kids [Mia, 10, and Cass, 7].
how has Squaw Valley impacted your career and influenced you as a snowboarder? Everything for me happened on KT-22. I’m not kidding. The key people in my life I’ve met on KT. The people who’ve influenced my snowboarding more than anyone else—I’ve watched them on KT. I feel like I’m a total product of KT-22. What’s exciting now is there’s this whole new crop of kids who are dominating, and they would say the same thing.
Tahoe has had some erratic winters in recent years. This seems like the perfect time to talk about climate change. Unfortunately, it takes people seeing drought or really low snow years to get more engaged. I wouldn’t wish for more warm winters, but they do make it easier for people to get engaged in climate change.
What are the implications of those warmer winters? A poor winter impacts the community and can gut our economy. Sure, it’s a bummer when it doesn’t snow. But the least of our problems is whether or not we get to ride powder. Anyone who lives in this town has seen the massive financial loss when it doesn’t snow. Plus, California needs a healthy snowpack for water supply. The effects of the drought locally are minimal, but the big picture impacts are extreme. Those are the real issues.
On April 29, our partners at Protect Our Winters (POW) are marching to Make America Deep Again. We’re with them. To help get you on board, we’re dedicating the prime real estate on our site to a smattering of the POW content that Mountain Media has produced over the years. Check it out, get inspired, then follow this link http://protectourwinters.org/join-a-march/ to find a mountain town march near you. #March4POW